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Topeka League of Women Voters

Collection 175



In March of 1985, the Topeka League of Women Voters donated three cardboard boxes containing deleted files no longer deemed currently useful to the Kansas State Historical Society. Actual acknowledgement of receipt was made on November 5, 1985, by Patricia Michaelis of the Society’s Manuscripts Department. After processing, the collection occupies nine “Hollinger” boxes, and contains correspondence, studies and information on various topics, and organizational records (including minutes, by-laws, reports, and membership directories.) As the Society acts as the League’s designated archive, published material is also included.

The collection is arranged into fourteen series, including Organizational Records and thirteen others identified with a topic (e.g. Civil Rights, Energy) that the League was either interested in or conducted a study on. Years covered by materials in the collection are concentrated between those of 1951 and 1978, although several topics extend to an earlier or later time; that is, the collection, overall, extends from 1923 to 1982. There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Organizational History

The League of Women Voters was an outgrowth of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and was first proposed in its last convention by President Carrie Chapman Catt. The earlier organization had been in existence for more than one-half a century, and had led the fight to secure American women the right to vote. When that goal was realized in1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, a decision was made to shift focus and the National League of Women Voters was proposed. The new organization would have as its goals to educate new women citizens, work for needed legislation, and awaken the whole electorate to participate more fully in the activities of its government.

Although it is a nonpartisan organization, the League does take action and support certain issues (though not political parties) after conducting studies and reaching a consensus of the members. The LWV is a membership organization, and its decisions are made by members. Boards are elected to carry out decisions made by members in local meetings and state and national conventions. From the very beginning, the League has been active in community affairs and issues concerned with government at all levels, including candidate meetings and various round table meetings where international relations were discussed.

The National American Woman Suffrage Association was an organization well-organized throughout the nation, with local units formed in numerous localities. In 1920, when the NAWSA was discontinued and the League of Women Voters was organized, many former NAWSA units reorganized to become local League chapters. However, Kansas’ records (although spotty) indicate that the first League in the state was formed four months after the national League.

In the early years, the Topeka League was made up of a few women devoted to the work, several of the state personnel who served as state chairmen, and a large group of women who participated in surface activities of the League but failed to comprehend the essential drive of its program. This account comes from a written remembrance of the League’s early years by an original member of the organization, and which is contained in this collection.

The Topeka League of Women Voters has been active through the years in the community through voter’s services, and membership study, discussion, and action based on a broad understanding of the issues. Records of its first years, however, are few and far between. What evidence that remains tells us that Alice McFarland and Mrs. C. J. Evans were active members in the 1920’s, and during that decade the League held candidate meetings and established the state LWV headquarters at Topeka in Room #9 of the Orpheum Building. The 1920’s also saw visits from William Allen White and Carrie Chapman Catt.

Little evidence remains that details League activities from 1925 to 1948, but when the records resume, a new and expanded League arises. Candidate meetings and election activities continue, but gradually the Topeka League expanded its interests further into the community. In 1950, a study was conducted on the city manager form of government and Topeka schools were also examined. A national Freedom Agenda project of the LWV of the U. S. was carried out in the early 1950’s to foster discussion on freedom and related issues. As a part of this program, the Topeka League conducted a “Freedom Forum” project in 1955 which involved speakers and public discussions. Studies were also conducted on, among other topics, recreation in Topeka and the police department.

In the 1960’s, League interest continued to diversify. Studies were conducted on family courts, the financing of Topeka’s public school system, housing and the need for fairness in its distribution, and proposals for city/county jail consolidation. Traditional league and activities continued, including a public meeting in 1966 on the use of federal funds in Topeka. Also, the Topeka League office established at 832 W. 10th.

The organization in the 1970’s further expanded. As society transformed and new issues arose, the Topeka LWV followed. Energy became an important concern, and the League responded with a study in 1977 on the available alternatives to currently used resources. Native American issues also occupied a significant amount of their time. Posed as a respected and active member of its community, the Topeka League of Women Voters will undoubtedly continue into the 1980’s and 1990’s always on the forefront of true citizen involvement in the community of Topeka.

Scope and Content

The collection covers the League of Women Voters of Topeka and its activities from 1939 to 1982. It does contain, however, several items which date from the 1920’s and the early years of the League which were collected in the 1970’s to provide a better understanding of the League and its historical background. The collection was the personal archives of the president of the Topeka chapter until given to the Historical Society, and as such represents the full scope of the organization. Organizational records, including the budget records and monthly bulletins, give a clear picture of the mundane and day-to-day activities of the chapter and its members, while materials relating to various topics and/or League studies reveal the broader and more far-reaching interest of the organization.

The records of the Topeka League of Women Voters portray an organization dedicated to the best interest and well-being of the community. While the LWV initially grew out of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and its efforts to secure women the right to vote, by the 1950’s, when the bulk of the collection begins, the organization had grown to include all aspects of life within its interest, as can be witnessed by collected material and studies on topics as diverse as Native Americans to the financing of Topeka’s public schools. Respect for the broad-based foundation of the 1970’s League can be seen by the pleas of various organizations and individuals for League support on issues that deal neither with women, in specific or general, nor voting.

Contents List

Series Description

Series in this collection include Organizational Records and thirteen other topics which have been arranged alphabetically: Civil Rights, County and State Government, Energy, Fair Housing, Family Courts, Financing Public Schools, Freedom Agenda, Native Americans, Police Department, Public Schools, Recreation, Voting and Elections, and Welfare.

The Organizational Records Series is the longest of the collection (four boxes,) and also the centerpiece. It is through these records that daily activities of the Topeka LWV have been preserved. It is divided into ten separate subseries. By-laws of the organization, including various revisions made throughout the years, are included, as are minutes of the board meetings, and budget reports, which were further subdivided into
treasurer’s reports, annual expenditures, proposed budgets, and pledge formulas and requests, all of which span the years from 1939 to 1980. Also included are membership directories, which provide lists of LWV members from 1959 to 1980, program and support positions of issues concerning the League, and information on several intergroup councils of which the LWV of Topeka was a member. The monthly bulletin, which provides invaluable information on League events from 1951 to 1979, should provide an
excellent tool for researchers on discovering issues that involved the
LWVT. Until 1964 it was called simply the bulletin, but thereafter was given the title “Topeka Voter,” and has continued as such. Within the Organizational Records Series there is also a subseries labeled, “correspondence (miscellaneous), which is arranged chronologically and contains letters that do not deal directly with other sections of the collection. Finally, a subseries on the history of the national and local LWV is included, which, as stated before, boasts several items from the 1920’s (both printed and non-printed), and contains additional items relating to the local Bicentennial celebration in Shawnee County.

The Civil Rights Series, which is contained in only two folders of the collection, includes prepared information on several civil rights issues, memorandums, and resolutions. Printed material (three pamphlets) is also included. Another series is the County and State Government Series, which consists of a 1979 LWVT study of community corrections for juveniles in Shawnee County, a 1968 Kansas tax impact study, and five related pamphlets. The material in both series is mostly undated.

The Energy Series, 1974 to 1977, occupies fourteen folders, and consists of various printed material and information on the energy issue, a series of twenty-three energy fact sheets, and memorandums, press releases, and related newspaper articles. There are several subseries of special interest. A K-State conference was held in November of 1975 dealing with energy concerns, and was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kansas. Several items are included which deal with participants and issues discussed. Also of interest is a study on energy in Kansas (1977), conducted by the LWV of Kansas.

The Fair Housing Series (1960-1975) consists of correspondence, related newspaper and magazine articles, memorandums (both of LWV and of other organizations), copies of ordinances, laws, and various judicial decisions, and printed material concerning the fair housing issue. Several newsletters are also included: the Tenants’ Voice newsletter (5/74 to 4/76), published by the Topeka Housing Complaint Center, and the Housing Survival newsletter (10/74 to 4/76). The centerpiece of the series is the two-part study on the fair housing issue conducted by the LWV of Topeka.

The Family Courts Series, contained in six folders and spanning the dates of 1957 to 1965, contains correspondence, related pamphlets, prepared information, and a League study of family courts, whose parts (progress reports, consensus) are dated variously between 1963 and 1965. Also included is a League prepared booklet: “Kansas Constitution (1859-1962)—The Judiciary.”

The Financing Public Schools Series spans the years of 1959 to 1975, and includes correspondence, newspaper articles (with a full newspaper section dated August, 1967) and prepared information on the Topeka school system expenditures. Most important of all is the 1961 LWVT consensus reached on the issue of school system finances.

The Freedom Agenda series, covering years 1951 to 1973, deals primarily with a national program in the 1950’s of the LWV of the U. S. “to increase understanding and appreciation of the role that individual freedom plays in our system of constitutional democracy and representative government.” As such it contains items relating to several regional and national conferences, correspondence, articles (newspaper and magazine), memorandums, newsletters, and communiqués. Several pamphlets are included. Also included are items relating to the Topeka chapter’s Freedom Forum project, which involved discussions at the Topeka High School in October of 1955 on the nature of our basic freedoms.

The Native American Series includes both collected printed material and items which link the LWVT directly to the issues of Native Americans. It contains newspaper and magazine articles, and newsletters and other items related to the Indian Center of Topeka and its affiliated institution, the Indian Offender Rehabilitation Program (including information on the genesis, location, by-laws, and history and activities of the program.) Much printed material on various aspects of Native Americans is contained, as is correspondence. Of particular importance within the correspondence is an exchange between Mary Bradford, president of the Topeka LWV, and Steve Cadue, tribal member of the Kickapoo Tribal Committee, in which Cadue attempts to elicit League support against Jack Carson, BIA representative in Horton, Kansas. The Native American Series spans the years 1970 to 1976.

The Police Department Series contains a newspaper article and printed material on the Topeka Police Department, including pamphlets and newsletter. Of primary importance, however, is an October, 1954 study of the police department by the LWVT with a report of its Police Study Committee. The series spans 1954 to 1956.

The Public Schools Series contains related items on Topeka public schools, correspondence, newspaper articles, Board of Education minutes (1977-1978), and general information on Topeka schools, including information on bond elections and a proposed administration building. Most important of all is a 1951 study by the LWVT on the school system. The series covers the years 1951 to 1978.

The Recreation Series also contains a LWV study from1963, divided into an outline of study, suggested consensus questions, and final consensus. Printed material and correspondence is also included. Of special interest are items relating to a 1965 ice rink proposal for Topeka. The Recreation Series covers years 1963 to 1968.

The Voting and Elections Series spans the period of 1970 to 1975, and contains three folders that are composed exclusively of newspaper sections from the Topeka Capital-Journal covering various elections through those years with profiles of candidates. There is one exception; one section is from the Wichita Independent.

The Welfare Series (1969 to 1974) contains printed and prepared information, letters and memorandums, newspaper articles, out-of-work questionnaires, and television interview materials (interview forms and potential on-the-air questions.) Also included is a study “Evaluation of Human Resources” of Salina, Kansas.

Thomas Reynolds
Washburn University Intern
Spring, 1986

Box List

Box 1    
    Organizational Records Series
  Folder 1: 1956 LWVT by-laws with amendments and amendment proposals
  Folder 2: suggested changes to by-laws of LWV of Kansas, 1965-1973
  Folder 3: correspondence, 1967-1973
    Minutes of Board Meetings
  Folder 4: board meeting minutes (3/24/64, 1/1967 to 12/1970)
  Folder 5: cont'd (1/1971 to 12/1973)
  Folder 6: cont'd (1/1974 to 11/1976)
    Budget Reports
  Folder 7: treasurer's reports (3/1939 to 12/1975)
  Folder 8: annual budgets/expenditures (4/1940 to 2/1975)
  Folder 9: proposed budgets (1950-1975)
  Folder 10: pledge formulas/requests (1967 to 1975)
    Annual Reports to LWV of U.S.
  Folder 11: annual reports to LWV of U.S. (3/1956 to 3/1962). Annual reports
    contain statements of expenditures, activities, etc.
  Folder 12: cont'd (4/1962 to 3/1966)
  Folder 13: cont'd (4/1966 to 3/1970)
  Folder 14: cont'd (4/1970 to 3/1975)
  Folder 15: two reports (unidentified years) to Voter's Service Committee and
    To LWV of U. S. on foreign policy
Box 2    
    Membership Directories
  Folder 1: membership directories (1959 to 1967-some missing years).
    Membership directories contain lists of members and
    calendars of League events.
  Folder 2: cont'd (1970 to 1980-two missing years: 1976, 1978)
    Program/Support Positions
  Folder 3: program and support positions (1970 to 1975) on topics including
    foreign policy, housing, state finance, etc., plus a 1966
    listing of local agenda items.
    Intergroup Councils
  Folder 4: items related to intergroup councils of which LWVT was a
    member (1965 to 1968)
  Folder 5: LWVT bulletins (4/1951 to 12/1953)
  Folder 6: cont'd (1/1954 to 12/1955)
  Folder 7: cont'd (1/1956 to 12/1958)
  Folder 8: cont'd (1/1959 to 12/1961)
  Folder 9: cont'd (1/1962 to 12/1963)
  Folder 10: cont'd (1/1964 to 11/1964)
Box 3    
  Folder 1: cont'd (although now called "Topeka Voter") (1/1965 to 12/1966)
  Folder 2: cont'd (1/1966 to 12/1966)
  Folder 3: cont'd (1/1967 to 12/1967)
  Folder 4: cont'd (2/1968 to 12/1968)
  Folder 5: cont'd (1/1969 to 12/1969)
Box 3 Continued    
  Folder 6: cont'd (1/1970 to 12/1970)
  Folder 7: cont'd (1/1971 to 12/1971)
  Folder 8: cont'd (1/1972 to 11/1972)
  Folder 9: cont'd (12/1972 to 11/1973)
  Folder 10: cont'd (4/1974 to 11/1974)
  Folder 11: cont'd (12/1974 to 11/1975)
  Folder 12: cont'd (12/1975 to 11/1976)
Box 4    
  Folder 1: cont'd (12/1977 to 10/1977)
  Folder 2: cont'd (1/1978 to 11/1979)
    Correspondence (Miscellaneous)
  Folder 3: correspondence (miscellaneous) (6/1951 to 3/1967)
  Folder 4: cont'd (4/1967 to 10/1968)
  Folder 5: cont'd (3/1973 to 11/1975)
    LWV History
  Folder 6: Progress magazine (1923, 1925, 1927), Kansas Woman's Journal
  Folder 7: newspaper articles (2/1925 to 4/1971)
  Folder 8: correspondence (2/1925 to 3/1975). Most important of all is a
    long letter of remembrance from an unidentified early
    member of the LWVT that concerns early activities and
    problems of the organization.
  Folder 9: printed information related to history of the organization (all undated)
  Folder 10: printed material (four pamphlets) (1922 to 1958)
Box 4 continued    
  Folder 11: agendas, correspondence related to the Shawnee County Bicentennial
    Commission (8/1974 to 11/1975)
    Civil Rights Series
Box 5    
  Folder 1: prepared information/memorandums/resolutions (undated)
  Folder 2: printed material (undated) including a copy of the Kansas Act
    Against Discrimination (1975)
    County and State Government Series
  Folder 3: printed material (pamphlets) (undated)
    Energy Series
  Folder 4: prepared information on the energy issue (2/1974 to 11/1977)
  Folder 5: cont'd (undated)
  Folder 6: energy fact sheets of LWV of U.S. Education Fund (2/1974 to
    12/1977) aimed at citizen education to promote discussion
    of complex energy issue
  Folder 7: memorandums/press releases/handwritten notes (12/1975 to 5/1980)
  Folder 8: K-State Conference material (11/15/1975). The conference was
    sponsored by LWVK with grant from the Kansas Committee
    for the Humanities, and entitled "A Look at Human Values
    and Changing Lifestyles."
  Folder 9: materials related to other meetings/conferences/workshops (1977)
  Folder 10: booklet "Energy in Kansas"-resources, uses, alternatives" (4/1977).
    It was prepared by LWVK, and contains charts of energy
    sources and possible alternatives.
  Folder 11: newspaper articles (5/1975 to 8/1977)
  Folder 12: printed information (booklets) on energy issue (1974 to 1976)
  Folder 13: cont'd (1976 to 1977)
Box 5 continued    
  Folder 14: cont'd (1977)
  Folder 15: "Exploring Energy Choices-A Preliminary Report of the Ford
    Foundation's Energy Policy Project" (1974)
  Folder 16: pamphlets (undated)
  Folder 17: cont'd (undated)
    Fair Housing Series
Box 6    
  Folder 1: printed information (maps, housing codes, etc.) on fair housing
    issue (1960 to 1968)
  Folder 2: ordinances/laws/copies of judicial decisions (1962 to 1974)
  Folder 3: "Equal Opportunity-A Study and Action Guide for Topeka" (1963)
  Folder 4: LWVT fair housing study (Parts I and II) (1965)
  Folder 5: items relating to fair housing LWVT action (e.g. grassroots strategy)
  Folder 6: position statements (1964 to 1971) from LWV and other organizations
  Folder 7: related newspaper, magazine articles (1963 to 1976)
  Folder 8: correspondence (1965 to 1974). Letters relate mostly to lobbying
    by LWVT for and eventual passage of a fair housing ordinance
    by the Topeka City Council.
  Folder 9: LWV of U.S. memorandums (1967 to 1977)
  Folder 10: Tenants' Voice newsletters (5/1974 to 1/1975)/ Housing Survival
    newsletters (2/1975 to 4/1976)
  Folder 11: printed material (1963 to 1968)
  Folder 12: cont'd (1968 to 1970)
  Folder 13: "Further Measures Combating Poverty and Discrimination in
    Kansas" (8/1970), published by LWVK
Box 7    
  Folder 1: printed material (1970 to 1977)
  Folder 2: "Tenants' Rights Handbook" (1973 and 1975 editions)-to help
    Topeka citizens to become more aware of their resources
    and rights
  Folder 3: six related pamphlets (1957 to 1964)
  Folder 4: "Kansas Constitution (1859-1962)-The Judiciary"
  Folder 5: LWVT study of family courts (9/1964)
  Folder 6: correspondence (9/1964)
  Folder 7: LWVK study of family courts (9/1964)
  Folder 8: two related items (1962 to 1963)
    Financing Public Schools Series
  Folder 9: information on Topeka school system expenditures (1959 to 1966)
  Folder 10: newspaper articles (1960 to1975)
  Folder 11: newspaper section (8/1968) concerning Topeka schools
  Folder 12: LWVT consensus on the financing of Topeka schools (1961 to 1975)
  Folder 13: related items (pamphlets, etc.) (1961 to 1972)
  Folder 14: correspondence (5/1961 to 7/1964)
  Folder 15: suggested school finance program (10/1962)
    Freedom Agenda Series
  Folder 16: items relating to the National Freedom Agenda project of the
    LWV of U.S. (1951 to 1956)
  Folder 17: two pamphlets (1954, 1955)
  Folder 18: items relating to several national and regional conferences that
    dealt with the Freedom Agenda project (1954 to 1955)
Box 7 Continued    
  Folder 19: related items (speeches, questionnaires, etc.) (undated)
  Folder 20: Topeka Freedom Forum project materials (1955)
  Folder 21: correspondence (11/1955 to 2/1956)
  Folder 22: newspaper, magazine articles (3/1955 to 5/1969)
  Folder 23: memorandums, newsletters, communiqués (8/1955 to 5/1973)
  Folder 24: "Freedom Agenda Citation" from Carrie Chapman Catt Memorial
  Folder 25: memorandums concerning Shawnee Mission LWV
Box 8    
    Native American Series
  Folder 1: correspondence (1970 to 1976)
  Folder 2: newspaper, magazine articles (1970 to 1975)
  Folder 3: items relating to Indian Center of Topeka (newsletters, etc.)
    (1973 to 1975)
  Folder 4: items relating to Indian Offender Rehabilitation Program of Topeka
  Folder 5: printed materials (1972 to 1975)
  Folder 6: printed materials (pamphlets) (undated)
  Folder 7: printed material. Also photocopied title page of States and Their
    Citizens (which was removed from the collection) by
    Theodore W. Taylor.
  Folder 8: printed material (pamphlets, items related to LWVT's "New World
    Native" TV program, etc.) (undated)
  Folder 9: handwritten lists of contacts for Indian issues (undated)
    Police Department Series
Box 8 continued    
  Folder 10: LWVT's 1954 study of Topeka's police department with report of
    Police Study Committee
  Folder 11: printed material (newsletter, breakdown of juvenile crime in Topeka,
    etc.) (undated)
  Folder 12: newspaper article (3/29/1956)
    Public Schools Series
  Folder 13: LWVT"s 1951 study of the Topeka school system; also, 1961
    summary of American high schools by James B. Conant,
    and interview with member Robena Pringle concerning
    Conant study
  Folder 14: general information on Topeka school system (bond elections,
    Head Start program, etc.) (1953 to 1966)
  Folder 15: report (3/1956) to Topeka Board of Education on most pressing
    building and site needs of Topeka schools
Box 9    
  Folder 1: related items (1951 to 1961) including handouts, pamphlets, etc.
  Folder 2: Citizens' Advisory Council final report on Topeka public schools
    and U.S.D. 501 (5/1972)
  Folder 3: same as above, except from 9/1976
  Folder 4: same as above, except from 9/1977
  Folder 5: correspondence (3/1956 to 1/1975)
  Folder 6: certificate of appreciation from Topeka public schools to
    LWVT (1976 to 1977)
  Folder 7: minutes of Board of Education (8/1977 to 3/1978)
  Folder 8: six related newspaper articles from Topeka Daily Capital reprinted
    in booklet form under the title "How Elementary Buildings
    Are Located in Cities"
    Recreation Series
Box 9 continued    
  Folder 9: correspondence (4/1963 to 11/1968)
  Folder 10: LWVT study of recreation in Topeka (1963); also, outline of study,
    suggested consensus questions, and final consensus
  Folder 11: items relating to a Topeka ice rink proposal (1965) including cost
    estimates, agendas, etc.
  Folder 12: printed and prepared material (five pamphlets, and a map of the
    "Master Plan for Parks, Recreation Areas, and Open Spaces")
    Voting and Elections Series
  Folder 13: newspaper sections (1970 to 1972)
  Folder 14: cont'd (1972 to 1974)
  Folder 15: cont'd (1974 to 1975)
    Welfare Series
  Folder 16: printed and prepared information (1967 to 1971) including a
    photocopied title page of Improving Urban America,
    which was removed from the collection
  Folder 17: "Evaluation of Human Resources" in Salina, Kansas (3/1974)
  Folder 18: correspondence (letters and memorandums) (6/1971 to 9/1972)
  Folder 19: out-of-work questionnaires (undated)
  Folder 20: TV interview materials (forms for interviewers, possible questions
    to be asked, etc.
  Folder 21: related newspaper articles (undated)
  Folder 22: three Current Review of Human Resources magazines from 9/1969,
    9/1969, and 9/1970